January 29, 2009

Measures of Success

In our current sports climate, it is rare to find an athlete that doesn't place themselves on some sort of pedestal. All too common, it seems, players are more worried about the "here and now" rather than their future or, in some cases...the history of the game they play.

Doug Glanville (formerly of the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers) is proving he is NOT one of those players every time he sits down and pens his column for the New York Times. Coming on the heels of the Hall of Fame announcement a couple weeks back...Doug had this to say.

"O.K., you got me. I didn’t get voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame the other week. A .277 batting average with 60 career home runs is cool, but it won’t garner you any votes unless you led the world in some other category.

But I often wonder whether a player who gets into the Hall should be automatically considered successful. And whether one who doesn’t should be seen as unsuccessful."

Read the rest of Doug's work over at NYTimes.com.

BallHype: hype it up!

January 28, 2009

The Hall of Fame Unemployment Line

From time to time a story, column, news article, etc. jumps out at me and I MUST read it. Recently Jack Curry wrote something that falls into that category. Here it is!

"In previous years, they were among the best players in baseball. In future years, they will probably stroll into the Hall of Fame. But this year, because of injuries, ineffectiveness or indifference toward them, they are unemployed.

In about three weeks, pitchers and catchers will have their first workouts at 30 spring training camps. By then, perhaps
Pedro Martínez, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Iván Rodríguez and Tom Glavine will have jobs.
Or maybe they will still be searching for a place to play."

Read the rest of Jack’s column over at NYTimes.com.

BallHype: hype it up!

January 26, 2009

Canton vs. Cooperstown

Last weekend, during the NFC Championship game, the commentators were all talking about the matchup between Donovan McNabb and Kurt Warner.

At some point, it became less about who was going to the Super Bowl and more about the legacy of each quarterback. Every time I heard that this particular game would determine who would end up taking up residency in the Pro Football Hall of Fame…I threw up a little in my mouth.

Are the credentials for enshrinement in Canton THAT much different than unlocking the doors at Cooperstown?

Apparently so.

A fourth NFC Championship loss would spell doom for McNabb, while a third Super Bowl appearance would, apparently, make Warner a lock. If you listened to the announcers, each touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald was another step toward immortality for the former Hy-Vee bag boy. In the second half, all that was pushed aside thanks to McNabb’s comeback.


All of a sudden, he was likened to John Elway or Joe Montana.

Unless you were under a rock, you know that the game concluded with the Arizona Cardinals winning 32 to 25 and seemingly sent Warner to the tailor to get measured for his Hall of Fame jacket.

Can someone please tell me why?

Warner wasn’t even slated to start this season under center. For his career, he has played three…count ‘em THREE full seasons as a starting quarterback. Sure, he made the Super Bowl in each of those seasons and his career winning percentage hovers around 56%, but in baseball terms…the guy is more Jose Rijo (career winning percentage of 56% and a World Series MVP) than Curt Schilling (accolades too numerous to mention).

So what in the world does Kurt Warner have to do with baseball? There hasn’t been a “Warner” in baseball since 1966 and the closest any of them haven’t gotten to the Hall of Fame were the “Waner” brothers (Paul and Lloyd) of the 30s and 40s.

Consider this if you will.

Football is a game of “what have you done for me once” while baseball fans want to know exactly “what are you doing for me now”…just look at the history of the game. Joe Namath, with his one ring and .500 record, has earned him some sort of legend status. David Cone, with his FIVE rings, a perfect game and close to 200 Ws can’t get FOUR percent of the writers to vote for him.

And that’s why I am fearful of the news I heard coming out of Pittsburgh…the Pirates are interested in signing Pedro Martinez.

Why be afraid though? Pedro is a LOCK for Cooperstown…only an idiot would leave him off their ballot, right? Right?!? Well, I thought the same about Rickey Henderson, but apparently five percent of the voters out there proved me wrong.

Take this leap of faith with me.

Before Pedro bolted Beantown for the Big Apple…the curators at the Hall of Fame were already framing up his spot on the museum walls. Four years later…and it’s a different Pedro.

No, I don’t mean that the jheri curl disappeared or that his face got a little chubbier. This is a guy, who, seemingly forgot how to win. Basically, he forgot who he was.

In the eight year stretch (seven of which were in Boston) before he donned the Mets pinstripes, Pedro had SEVEN top four finishes in the Cy Young voting. Three times (1997, 1999 and 2000), he took home the award. In 1999, he won the pitching triple crown by leading the league in wins, Ks and ERA.

Martinez was 32 when he left Boston with his six All-Star games, 182 wins and 2653 Ks under his arm. He won 70 percent of his games and had a career strikeout to walk ratio of 4.31…both ranking him third best of all-time.

Amazingly, his 117-37 record with the Red Sox ranks as the highest winning percentage (76%) any pitcher has had with any team in baseball history.

With the Mets, Martinez was 32-23 with a 3.88 ERA…a far cry from his career ERA of 2.91 or PRE-New York ERA of 2.71. Somehow, he was selected to two All-Star games (2005 and 2006) and was injured for most of his stay.

So allow me to say it…Pedro, hang it up. Please.

You’re 37 and while some of your contemporaries (Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Schilling) seemed to have stepped up their game during their prime years…yours has declined. Should you play four more years like you did the last four, your ERA is likely going to jump over 3.10 and your winning percentage will drop to 65%.

Why do it to yourself and your legacy?

Your peak was legendary and was one that would make guys like Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal or Jim Palmer slap you on the back. You took big game pitching to an entirely new level. Don’t ruin it all by suiting up with the Pirates.

I’m serious.

It was bad enough to see you trot to the mound at Shea, but after four years…we got used to it. Hang it up before you take the bump at PNC Park (or whatever they’ll call it next) because, and I’m going to attempt to bring this back to pro football, Johnny Unitas looked absolutely silly as a Charger.
BallHype: hype it up!

January 21, 2009

The Class of 2014 just grew a 'stache!

Jeff Kent is expected to announce his retirement and, as expected, the debate as to whether or not he is a Hall of Famer has already started. Good friend of the Hall of Very Good, Todd Coppernoll, wrote up this compelling case for Kent's inclusion.

Here it is!

Career Highlights
5 All-Star Games

4 Silver Slugger Awards

2000 NL MVP

Career leader in Home Runs by a Second Baseman

Baseball-Reference comparison...5 of 10 similar batters have been elected to the Hall of Fame (3 are not yet eligible).

Since its inception, the Hall of Fame has had its "magic numbers." 3000 hits gets you in, 500 homers will do it, 300 wins is an automatic. If you can't do that, then be a nice guy, make ‘em love you and they'll vote you in sooner or later. It's a simple formula, play long enough to hit a magic number, or be a smiley guy on good teams... that's all it takes.

Jeff Kent is a player who will test that theory.

He's done something that should get him in by itself, but what he's done is not time-honored and steeped in silly baseball writer tradition... and he is not known as the smiley guy on the good teams. Something's going to give, this one could get messy.

Kent was not drafted until round 20 in 1989, when he was selected by Toronto. A collegiate shortstop, Kent was switched to second base. This is a key fact for this discussion, had Kent not been a second baseman, this article probably would never have been written, as Kent would be remembered as a solid hitter with a nice peak, but little more.

Once destiny lent a hand, Mr Kent went on to hit more home runs than any second baseman in MLB history. One would think that would do it, more home runs than anyone at his position, no failed steroid test...it might take a few ballots, but the writers won't overlook this feat, he's in.

The problem is, that single stat is almost Kent's entire case for induction. He's nowhere near 3000 hits (he finished at 2461), he never got to 500 home runs (finishing with 377) and he doesn't have the warm personality or the defensive credentials that push borderline bats into the Hall.

As a second baseman, he sent 351 deep, 74 more than previous leader, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. Like "Ryno", Kent does have an MVP award, but the only stats he's ever lead his league in are extra-base hits (once), and sacrifice flies (twice). That's not exactly bulletin board material for the voters.

If you compare him to second basemen, Kent looks solid, if you compare him to Hall of Fame bats in general, or even to the best bats of his generation, his case is not overwhelming.

Mr Kent deserves his statistical comparison to his Hall of Fame peers. In this case, where we need power hitting second basemen, the options are limited. Out of necessity, I compared Kent to a group consisting of Rogers Hornsby, Bobby Doerr, Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg, there really aren't any additional matches among current Hall of Fame members.

Looking at seasons played (basing one season on 162 games), Kent played 14.2 full seasons compared to 13.7 for the control group. Amazingly, Kent does seem to compare well to the afore mentioned group.

He's in the neighborhood for hits (173 vs. 180) and runs (93 vs. 103), he has a clear edge in homers (27 vs. 19) and runs batted in (107 vs. 91), a surprisingly strong doubles total (39 vs. 32) and an OPS (.856 vs. .862) that's right in line. Offensively, the only place he doesn't match up is stolen bases (7 vs. 22), which is to be expected.

I would have to bet that Kent will indeed be elected to the Hall of Fame one day. I would guess it will take a few years on the ballot, but when the writers really look at his numbers compared to the greats at his position, they will have no choice but to vote him in. As far as my own personal vote, it's much the same. I'm not blown away by Kent's career, but in the end I don't suppose I can deny his offensive impact as a second baseman.

My vote is a very bland yes.

***You can read more of Todd s "Hall of Fame Trials" HERE.***

BallHype: hype it up!

January 19, 2009

Oh Canada...no, seriously!

***Ever wonder what happens when I am behind in giving my opinion on last week’s Hall of Fame announcement? In short…David Allan steps in.***

Well I guess I should start this off with congratulations to Rickey Henderson, a first ballot Hall of Famer to be sure. My first quick question is who are the 28 guys that honestly believed that Rickey wasn’t Hall worthy?

The conversations with colleagues, friends, family or anyone else interested for that matter had to go like this.

DA:
So, who was on your ballot this year besides Henderson?
I mean, did you vote for Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith and Jack Morris? How about it, were you one of the few that threw a vote to Dave Parker or David Cone, maybe Big Mac or Alan Trammell?

Bonehead Writer: Actually no, to be honest, I didn’t vote for Rickey.

DA: Oh really, you submitted a blank ballot? Figured none of these guys where Hall of Fame worthy then? It’s hard to believe, but I’d love to hear the argument.

Bonehead Writer: No, I wasn’t one of those two. I picked Rice, Dawson, Jay Bell, and Mo Vaughn.

DA: Jay Bell? Really?You voted for JAY BELL?!?

Bonehead Writer: Well, I feel that nobody should be a unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer.

DA: But somewhere out there guys like you support the notion that Jay Bell, Mo Vaughn and Jesse Orosco could be Hall of Famers. They got votes for crying out loud. Somebody must have checked their boxes? You guys must be half way to the moon if you think any of this makes a lick of sense! Those guys don’t even qualify for The Hall of Very Good!

Or at least that’s how I’d imagine the conversation to go in my head. Those 26 writers that voted should be ashamed of themselves for not choosing an obvious Hall of Fame choice in Rickey.

As for the two writers that submitted blank ballots, get over yourselves.

Honestly, you’ve been given the privilege of choosing who is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and you waste it on some childish notion that there shouldn’t be a unanimous first ball Hall of Famer?

I would also like to say thank you to Jim Rice. Jim, Canada wants to buy you a drink.

Why Canada you ask?

No don’t go running for your atlas; Boston hasn’t somehow been magically transported to Manitoba. Although I am sure there are a few in New York that wish it had been.

I’d like to thank the Red Sox media machine for making Rice the darling pick over the last couple years, to the point where he edged his way over that 75% threshold.

Why you ask?

Great question, because I couldn’t understand how Rice got there. I mean it wasn’t like at some point in the last 15 years he collected a couple hundred more hits, or swatted another 120 home runs.

The argument I keep hearing is that his numbers have become more impressive because of the era he played in and the six or seven seasons of dominance that he had. His steep decline later in his career has some how become less of a problem with writers became over the past couple of rounds of voting.

So I submit to you Jim Ed Rice. A .298 batting average, 382 bombs, 2452 hits, 1451 RBI and 58 stolen bases. He was eight times an All-Star, once an MVP and one Hell of an American.

In his best major league season he batted .325 with 46 home runs and 139 RBI. He collected 213 hits, swiped 10 bases and was caught 5 times.

If all of that is Hall worthy, let’s talk about Larry Robert Kenneth Walker, born December 1, 1966 in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. That’s right, Larry Walker, or as I like to call him Canada’s next Hall of Fame inductee.

Nope, Canada isn’t struggling to add anyone else to the National Hockey League Hall of Fame, so let me focus my efforts on Cooperstown.

Okay, now that you have screamed out the word “WHAT?”, in utter disgust and then proceeded to slowly mouth the words “Larry Walker?” over and over again in an extremely slow and confused manner, let me get started.

First things first, Walker only averaged 125 games for his career, because of injuries, so we can conclude that although he did play 17 years in The Show for the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals, some of his raw numbers are a little light.

That being said, let’s start with the two stats that Hall of Fame writers go straight to when measuring greatness, homeruns and hits.

Walker managed 383 home runs. One more than Rice’s all time total. Plus, he did it in 1300 less at bats. Larry managed to knock a big fly over the wall at a clip of 1 every 18.03 at bats. Rice on the other hand whacked long balls at a pace of 1 per every 21.53 trips to the dish.

Everyone, at this point, is going to point to the ballpark on this stat. But can we not agree that Fenway has inflated a few numbers in its day? For the record, Walker’s home vs. road splits for home runs during his entire career is 56/44 (home vs. away), while Rice is 54/46.

Now in the hits category Walker is 292 hits shy of Rice’s total at 2160, but taking into account the number of at bats missed over his career, especially those in his prime, we can safely say that Walker’s career .313 batting average would more than likely put his career total some where in the 2400-2500 hit range.

If you take his career average and multiply it by the number of additional at bats Rice had, we get an additional 412 career hits for Walker or 2572. Moreover, if you look at his 162 game avg, and multiply that by his 17 year career we are looking at 2992, or a mere eight hits shy of 3000, but I am sure he would’ve come back to get, and probably 100 or so more.

Walker does get hurt by the limited at bats in the RBI total as well, although he falls short of Rice, his 1311 has him in similar company to Paul Molitor, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Mike Piazza and Duke Snider.

I would again go back to a yearly average of 107.

1700 runners driven in is exclusive company as it puts you in the top 25 for an all-time career. That’s ahead of Ernie Banks, Tony Perez, Cal Ripken Jr. It puts you in the club with Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Reggie Jackson, Honus Wagner and Ken Griffey Junior.

Those names all sound like Hall of Famers to me.

His 471 career doubles outpace Rice by 98 for his career. We are talking about Jim Rice, a right-handed batter that played in a park that manufactures doubles out of long fly ball outs. So again I am not impressed by the home vs. road knock on Walker.

I know you’re thinking it.

We can talk offense all day, but it is apparent to people that watched that both were great, but that Walker was a more complete player. He stole 230 career bases, compared to Rice’s 58.

Walker took home, count them with me now 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 Gold Gloves over a ten year period. Rice managed NONE.

Rice was a two-time Silver Slugger winner, an award Walker took home three times. Walker’s resume also includes three league batting titles. He hit a whopping .379 in 1999! He finished in the top ten six times. Rice also had six top ten finishes, but was never higher than third.

There are 92 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For his career, Larry Walker ranks in the Top 100 all-time in batting average, home runs, doubles, at bat to RBI ratio, extra base hits and on base percentage. In 1997, he became a member of the 30/30 club.

I submit to you Larry Walker. One MVP, three batting titles, five All-Star games and seven Gold Gloves. His 162 games average is a batting average of .313, an on base percentage of .400, a slugging percentage of .565, 31 home runs, 107 RBI, 38 doubles, and 19 stolen bases.

I present to you Canada’s next Hall of Famer.
***Note: Based on the "Is Larry Walker a Hall of Famer" poll that was on the page...only 40% of you think he is.***

BallHype: hype it up!

January 12, 2009

It's official, Rickey's the greatest...Rice too!

I'll have more later, but THIS is what MLB.com has to say about Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice making it in.


BallHype: hype it up!

In 2009 it's Henderson, Rice and "The Ram"

I suppose that it’s purely coincidence that on the same night Mickey Rourke wins the Best Actor Golden Globe…plenty of players that shared the same heyday as the fictional Randy “The Ram” Robinson went to bed wondering when and if their phone is going to ring.

Today is the day for some. It is the culmination of a career, validation of a job well done and for most…a heartbreaking “thanks for playing” consolation prize.

We know one guy that is in for sure…Rickey Henderson.

Fans of the greatest leadoff hitter EVER can make their reservations for the weekend of July 24, because Henderson is poised to garner the most votes when the Hall of Fame ballots are counted and made public. For the record, Cal Ripken Jr. got the most votes (537 in 2007) while Tom Seaver had the highest vote percentage (98.8% in 1992).

My guess is Henderson eclipses them both. But who else deserves to share the podium with Henderson?


It’s been 20 years since Cooperstown has opened its doors for a leftfielder (Carl Yastrzemski was elected in 1989), will the Hall welcome TWO this summer?

With Dennis Eckersley (2004), Bruce Sutter (2006) and Goose Gossage (2008) making it in in three of the last four years...does another reliever get enshrined?

Will the Hall welcome a pair of pitchers with a staggering 575 wins between them?

Yes…no?!? I don’t know to be honest. I mean, I have an idea as to who MIGHT make their way in…but I also have my opinion as to who I would vote in if given a vote.

YES.

Rickey Henderson.

No questions asked…the guy could have written his speech 10-15 years ago.

Jim Rice.

Is it conceivable Rice has finally changed the minds of those 16 writers that keep him from getting in last year? Possibly. Bert Blyleven was the sexy pick of all the bloggers and writers out there and fell short…something tells me that this year’s darling (Rice) will no longer be the bridesmaid.

Harold Baines and Andre Dawson.

Again, like Rourke’s character in “The Wrestler”, both had tremendous success in the late 80s and early 90s and have terrible, terrible knees. I would vote for both for different reasons. Baines was the pre-eminent DH of his time and as I’ve said before…if you’re going to include the DH as a position, you’ve gotta include a DH in the Hall. I put “The Hawk” in simply on his own merit. He was every bit the player Jim Rice was and as equally feared.

Lee Smith.

I met the guy last April and the man is intimidating as all Hell. Lee seemed bigger than life standing next to me (I'm 6'4") and shaking his hand was like grabbing a tractor tire. I can only imagine what it was like having him throw something in your direction from sixty feet, six inches. His 478 saves was pretty good too.

NO.

Jay Bell, Mark Grace and Matt Williams.

The trio that helped bring a championship to Arizona in 2001 is going to have to buy their admittance to the Hall just like you and me.

The Cousins Vaughn…Mo and Greg.

I loved them both. Along with Dante Bichette…I think a majority of the fantasy league teams I put together between 1998-2003 contained one if not all three of them.


Ron Gant, Jesse Orosco and Dan Plesac.
One of these guys is a two-time 30/30 club member. Another one is the all-time leader in games pitched. The last one once signed a card for me outside County Stadium. Combined, they won’t be lucky to get enough votes to stay on the ballot a year from now to see Ray Lankford, Kevin Appier and Mike Jackson also not get elected.

Mark McGwire.

I’ve heard all the OPS arguments, but take away his tremendous home run total and all you’ve got is a guy who played in a ton of All-Star games and had precious little to show for it.

Dave Parker and Alan Trammell.

It’s possible that both “The Cobra” and “Alan” (did the vanilla white Trammell HAVE a nickname?) will take the writers to the limit. The problem is…after 15 years, neither will have gotten any closer to entering Cooperstown.

Bert Blyleven and Tommy John.

These two have 575 victories between them…not too shabby. On the flip side, they have only six All-Star appearances, four 20 win seasons, two rings and NO Cy Young Awards. 48 years in the bigs and that’s the best you can muster?

Which leads me to…

I’M ON THE FENCE…seriously.

David Cone and Jack Morris.

Honestly, I’d put both of these guys in before Blyleven and John. They were winners through and through. The argument is always “Blyleven/John did what they did on teams that didn’t win”. My response…“Cone and Morris MADE their teams winners”. EIGHT times.

Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy and Tim Raines.
If you paid ANY attention to baseball in the 80s…THESE were three of about a dozen or so guys that you would pay good money to watch. Of the three, I think Mattingly is the only one who will have his dance card punched…even if it is by the Veterans Committee.

Based on the breakdown, I guess I’d put in five guys (Henderson, Rice, Dawson, Smith and Baines)…we’ll see soon how the REAL writers do.

Who are YOUR Hall of Fame picks? Let’s hear ya!


BallHype: hype it up!

January 9, 2009

Feathers were ruffled

I’ve taken plenty of heat this week for merely suggesting that Don Mattingly was Hall worthy. It was almost as if I was accountable for 74.9% of this Monday’s vote and all I had to do was convince ONE person to join my side.

I don’t have a vote, people, but if I did…“Donnie Baseball” would be a guy that I would have to think long and hard about voting for.

I'm serious.

Plenty of you took the opportunity to tell me WHO you thought was more worthy than Mattingly. That being said…let me cut through the clutter that typically fills the first couple of paragraphs of every new post and jump right in.

Mark Grace is not, I repeat NOT a Hall of Famer.

There, I said it Cubs fans…your beloved “Gracie” is not going to be on the short list of new inductees when they are announced Monday.

“But what about all those hits he had in the 90s?”

It’s true…Grace’s 1,754 base hits in the decade of the 90s led all major leaguers. Seven more than Rafael Palmeiro (1747), 26 more than Craig Biggio (1728) and 41 more than Tony Gwynn (1713)…each one of them (steroids aside) SHOULD BE Hall of Famers.

As a sidenote…it should be noted that when you break down hits leaders by decade, only ONE decade (the 1980s) does not have its leader (Pete Rose) in the Hall of Fame. But did Grace ever lead the league in hitting? Nope. He was just the model of consistency.

Matter of fact, Grace never led the league in hits, much less batting average. The closest he ever came in leading the league in hits was 1993 where he trailed league leader Lenny Dykstra by one.

Grace is a guy who, while carrying a career .303 batting average, never finished higher than THIRTEENTH in the MVP voting and appeared in only three All-Star Games.

Sure, he got his World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in 2001 and brought home the Gold Glove four times, but you know what…so did Steve Garvey.

Amd that’s where their similarities end.

“But Grace is a good guy…we LOVE him here in Chicago!”

Do ya? If so…why?!? He kinda left your city with a sour taste in his mouth and let EVERYONE know about it. He’ll talk about how much he loves the Windy City in one breath…but bash it in the next.

Consider what he said as he suited up to take field against the Yankees in the 2001 World Series…“I've never been to Yankee Stadium. I've never played the Yankees all these years. I've always been in the National League, and believe it or not, the Cubs have never played the Yankees in the postseason.”

Maybe what he said was true, but then he dropped this one after winning the World Series in Arizona…“I’m not good enough to play for the Chicago Cubs, but I’m good enough to play for the World Champions.”

Ouch.

He was colorful…a great quote. A Hall of Famer? Not quite.

Sorry, friends.


BallHype: hype it up!

January 8, 2009

Remember the "Athlete"?

***Claiming that “Donnie Baseball” made him do it…here’s JB’s take on a certain someone on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.***

I have an unfortunate addiction to fixating on anything that comes across the TV with a scoreboard.

Golf, tennis (preferably women’s, for obvious reasons), badminton…doesn’t matter. Hell, if I come across MTV and the “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” is on…I want to know who wins in the gauntlet.

This past weekend, I stumbled upon the Under Armor All-America High School Football Game.

I started seeing listings for this guy rated THIS by that service and this guy rated THAT by this service…blah, blah, blah. What intrigued me the most was seeing several players with a position listed as “ATH”. It stands for “ATHLETE”, which apparently means the individual is far too talented to be listed at just one position.

As I watched several 18 and 19 year-old boys do sack dances and stand over the Blue Chip QB they just hammered, I reminisced about an “ATH” I loved during my youth.
He was drafted in the first round by an MLB team and gravitated to become the face of the franchise. He was drafted as a CATCHER (I know…“ATHLETE” and “CATCHER” in the same paragraph, but give me a second here), but was far too talented to ruin his knees and wreck his offense worrying about how to handle a pitching staff.

Though you may have a recent retiree in mind, don’t even think about saying Craig Biggio…"The Murph” was a catcher with entirely too much offensive talent, a cannon arm and a gait like a gazelle to spend his time rotting away behind the plate.

When the Atlanta Braves made Dale Bryan Murphy the fifth overall pick in the 1974 draft, they knew they were choosing a 6’5” 215-pounder out of Portland, Oregon (when do you get to play baseball in Portland…between downpours?) with an unlimited supply of power from the right side of the plate. Only problem…he’s a catcher and the DH rule wasn’t available to the Senior Circuit.

Besides, Murphy was too good to be DH material anyhow.

After spending his call-up in 1976 and 1977 as a backstop, the Braves had a brainstorm. They needed to move this catcher, with tons of offensive potential, a rocket arm and athleticism for days, to a position that was better suited to his tools…first base!

Now a more accurate reason for Murphy’s switch from first to the outfield in spring training 1980 is Bob Horner, the Braves 1978 first rounder (number one overall pick), needing somewhere to play when he wasn’t fighting off groundballs like a hockey goalie at the hot corner or injured.

Again, I am arguing it was because of Murphy’s athleticism…not too hard though. Murphy’s FIVE Gold Gloves (playing mostly centerfield) wins that debate for me.

So let’s get to it, Dale Murphy should be a Hall of Famer.

He destroyed National League pitching in the 80’s. On top of the five, 24K Rawlings, he was a seven time All-Star and was 30-30 in 1983…year two of back-to-back MVP seasons. He very easily could have won two more…one in 1984 (.290, 36 HR, 100 RBI) and again in 1987 (.295, 44, 105) if not for two Cubs.

Two Cubs!

Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson did both deserve it, not disputing that, but Murphy finished ninth and eleventh in voting respectively in those years. Guys named "Wallach" and "Cruz" finished ahead of him in voting and in ’84 he beat Jody Davis in voting by just 3 points.

Come on…Jody Davis?!? The guy on top of trophies had a better batting stance than him.

How does Murphy stack-up with some current Hall members?

Let’s put him up against two…one a catcher, one a center fielder (irony intended). “The Murph” scored more runs, had more hits and homers than the catcher and won as many MVP awards. The center fielder…Murphy had 2 more MVP awards than him.

Is Murphy better than Johnny Bench and Duke Snider? Probably not.

Does he belong in the same class? Absolutely.

He unfortunately did not have the benefit of playing for, and winning World Series titles like Bench and Snider did. He played in Atlanta when they were shitty at best and he was most, if not all, of what they had.

As I drifted back into consciousness to some wide receiver from the State of Florida committing LIVE, on the spot to the Gators (what a shocker), I longed for the days of a true “ATH.” Like when a 1983 Dale Murphy Topps card made my day when I got one in a pack.

As I recalled the stale flavor of baseball-card-pack bubble gum, I thought to myself what I thought then…“The Murph” sure smells like a Hall-of-Famer.

BallHype: hype it up!

January 6, 2009

I'm tired of the Yankees

I’ve had some time to think about this next statement, but even at the risk of coming across like a thirteen year-old with a Myspace page…I’ll say it.

I hate the New York Yankees.

Oh sure, I’ve talked before about how much I would like to visit Monument Park. I’ve even sung the praises of Yankee great Ron Guidry by comparing him (quite favorably I might add) to Sandy Koufax. But all their history and the legacy of the pinstripes aside, I can’t get behind their off-season signings.

Hell, I know Yankees FANS who can’t argue that the signings of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and, most recently, Mark Teixeira AREN’T good for the game.

All that said, I do sleep better knowing that (A) they were not invited to the annual Frank Caliendo promo fest Major League Baseball calls the “playoffs” and (B) they haven’t won a World Series since BEFORE the Twin Towers were rubble.

I guess at the end of it all, I can take solace in the fact that we’ve seen this movie before…25 years ago.

The “Bronx Bombers” OWNED baseball in the late 70s. They averaged 98 wins from 1976 to 1980 and took home two world championships. Owner George Steinbrenner was at his most colorful. He hired and fired Billy Martin twice (he’d make three more stints as manager throughout the 80s) and brought players in left and right to capture the pennant.

Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Goose Gossage were all brought in to win.

And they did.

In the decade following, Steinbrenner again opened up his wallet to buy some hardware. He brought in Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Don Baylor to round out a lineup already chock full of established stars like Guidry, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles and a certain up and coming first baseman.

Steve Balboni.

Problem is…this didn’t work. The Yankees went from dominating the American League to going twelve straight years of NOT making the playoffs…their longest such streak since BEFORE Babe Ruth came over from BeanTown.

Apparently, you can’t buy chemistry and I’m hopeful that my friend Nick Underhill was right when he wrote THIS last month. Sure, he recanted his statement eleven days later…but I’m sticking to my guns.

Now, to think I’m going to spend the next dozen (or more…probably many more) paragraphs trumpeting Balboni’s career would be insane. Granted, his lifetime numbers of .229, 181 homeruns and 495 RBIs are as rotund as he was, but it’s the Lou Gehrig to Balboni’s Wally Pipp that I’m excited about.

Don Mattingly.

I know what you’re thinking…did this guy lose his mind? He must’ve just got done watching the Cheers finale (that’s a 1993 reference, gang), because “Donnie Baseball” hasn’t been relevant since BEFORE the strike of 1994.

How did I go from HATING the Yankees to writing about, arguably, one of their most popular players?

I’ll tell ya.

Like most of the world, I was enamored with Mattingly when he hit the scene. I had his 1984 Donruss rookie card encased in Lucite and thought I was witnessing the second coming.

That being said, I’m not so sure we weren’t.

During a six-year run beginning in 1984, Mattingly averaged 26 home runs, 114 RBIs and a .327 batting average. No player during that stretch had more RBI than Mattingly's 684, while only Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (1,269) had more hits than Mattingly's 1,219.


That six-year peak (from 1984 to 1989) is clearly one of the best of his generation and overall, his brief career stacks up with some others in the Hall.

Let’s compare him with a recently inducted Hall of Famer and YOU explain to ME why Mattingly can’t get more than 28 percent of the vote. Matter of fact, if someone can tell me how less than TEN percent of the voters in 2007 thought Mattingly was Hall worthy…I’m waiting.

So, let’s compare!

HALL CANDIDATE A played in only 1785 games at the major league level. However, in that short career…he notched 2153 hits, 222 homeruns and 1099 RBI.

Known primarily as a contact guy, this player had a career batting average of .307 and an on base percentage of .358. Seven times, this player finished in the top ten in hits and five times, he was in the top ten in batting average…leading the league only once. He had a stretch of five out of six years, where he finished in the top five in RBI.

Let’s look at the trophy case.

HALL CANDIDATE A was once a league MVP and four straight years, he finished in the top ten in voting. He was an All-Star six times and had a surprisingly spectacular glove, bringing home the Gold Glove at his position in nine out of ten seasons.

As I’ve said before, post season accolades can make you or break you. In this player’s career…he had a career post season batting average of .417.

Now…let’s check out the resume of HALL CANDIDATE B by using the same EXACT criteria. Matter of fact, I’m going to cut and paste the preceding and make the appropriate changes.

Here we go.

HALL CANDIDATE B played in only 1783 games at the major league level. However, in that short career…he notched 2304 hits, 207 homeruns and 1085 RBI.

Like HALL CANDIDATE A, HALL CANDIDATE B was also known as a contact guy. He had a career batting average of .318 and an on base percentage of .360. Ten times, this player finished in the top ten in hits and seven times, he was in the top ten in batting average…leading the league once. Only twice did he finish in the top five in RBI.

Let’s look at the trophy case.

HALL CANDIDATE B was never a league MVP, but there was a stretch where nine times in eleven years, he finished in the top ten in voting. He was an All-Star ten straight years and while he was heralded as having a spectacular glove, he was only golden six times.

Again, as I’ve said before, you have to look at post season accolades. In this player’s career…he had a career post season batting average of .309.

Now, here’s the part where you can separate who is who.

HALL CANDIDATE B has two World Series rings in two chances and if you paid any attention in the first half of this post, you know that Mattingly has none.

So, who is HALL CANDIDATE B? It’s the very guy who gave Mattingly the moniker “Donnie Baseball” of course…Kirby Puckett.

Yeah, the same Kirby Puckett who went into the Hall in 2001...coincidently, both his and Mattingly’s first year on the ballot. 2001 also yielded the highest amount of support for Mattingly…28.2%.

"I don't think I'm a Hall of Famer," Mattingly told Newsday last year. "I don't think I have the numbers. Part of it is longevity, and I wasn't able to do that and do the things that I did early in my career."

Mattingly is a modest, modest man.

If his numbers show anything it’s that he HAS the numbers. As I’ve shown, his numbers are on par with Kirby Puckett. Sure, neither had the longevity (both were forced out due to injury)...but there are a number of players in the Hall who played in LESS games.

If you’ve heard me sound off about Albert Belle…you know I think the longevity argument is flawed. On the flipside, I think some players play their way into the Hall by playing in TOO MANY games.

Simply put, the “longevity” argument is garbage and Mattingly is, again, being modest by bringing it up. But I get it, he’s not out there playing the “I’m a Hall of Famer” game like some players do...he’s allowing others to bang his drum.

And I guess that’s what I am doing…my personal feelings about the New York Yankees aside.

The Hall of Fame voting is revealed Monday, but if you’ve got something to say about Jim Rice, Andre Dawson or even Dale Murphy…I’d like to hear from you!


Drop me an email at hallofverygood@yahoo.com and who knows…your words might just end up on this website!

***Note: Based on the "Is Don Mattingly a Hall of Famer" poll that was on the page...50% of you think he is.***

BallHype: hype it up!